The Colorado state House on Wednesday passed a bill that would seek to ban new pet stores from selling puppies and kittens over near-united opposition from the chamber’s GOP caucus.
The bill from Reps. Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, and Matt Soper, R-Delta, requires pet stores to provide customers with the pet's price, breeder information, the cost of financing the sale, if needed, as well as requiring that information for advertisements. Duran said that information is already required but the bill would allow for it be more readily accessible, which Soper likened to the transparency required of the auto industry.
The bill also banned pet stores that hadn't previously sold dogs or cats from offering them, though an amendment introduced by Soper in the House Agriculture, Livestock and Water Committee allows owners who are currently allowed to sell dogs and cats to sell their business or change physical locations without risking the state license that is granted under the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act. According to testimony before the ag panel, there are about a dozen pet stores in Colorado licensed to sell puppies and kittens, and only nine, all along the Front Range, do so on a regular basis.
That measure came under fire from Republican lawmakers on Tuesday when it was up for second reading.
“I urge the bill sponsors not to attack small businesses in a COVID-19 environment,” said Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Akron. “That's any business, that's all business and especially small businesses who are struggling.”
Rep. Shane Sandridge, R-Colorado Springs, added the increased regulations would stymie job growth.
“You can say all day long that you're not there to put them out of business, you're not there for jobs to be lost, but they're going through a pandemic, our unemployment rate is in the tank because of these regulations, and you want to add more regulations,” he said. “Let's not be fooled: this is an attack on the industry and this will hurt their business.”
Duran countered the bill would not put businesses or jobs at risk while Soper added testimony before the ag panel that revealed 2020 was a record financial year for the pet industry in Colorado.
“Many Coloradans were looking for a comfort animal to have during the pandemic,” he said. “That's also why it's important to have consumer protection, to have disclosure.”
Republicans also took issue with the first provision. Rep. Rod Pelton, R-Cheyenne Wells, on Tuesday introduced an amendment that would have removed the requirement for the breeders’ information to be publicly displayed, citing concerns over “militant” animal rights groups posing a threat to breeders.
“I feel this is a safety issue for the breeders that keeps people from coming to their place and disrupting their operations and causing harm,” Pelton said.
But Duran shot down that idea, telling her House colleagues “there has been no reporting or evidence that that has been the case.” The chamber on Tuesday rejected that amendment on voice vote.
The House on Wednesday also rejected a proposed third reading amendment from Rep. Perry Will, R-New Castle, seeking to remove the limit on the number of pet stores that can sell dogs and cats before passing the bill on a 42-23 vote. Soper joined the chamber’s Democrats in supporting the measure while his GOP colleagues all voted against it.